Climate Data

Words on Weather & Climate — February 25, 2010

February 25, 2010 // 0 Comments

Climate Data, Part II by CRAIG JAMES If you didn’t see my article from last week, I showed this chart from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies supposedly showing about .8 degree C (1.4 degree F) warming across the globe since 1880. I think this chart is pure fantasy. Here is more on why. Last week I wrote about the United States Historical Climate Network (USHCN) and the problems with bad location of thermometers on or near tarmacs, next to buildings, on paved driveways and roads, in waste treatment plants, on rooftops, near air conditioner exhausts and more. In addition, there are problems with the adjustments made for the urban heat island effect, changing thermometer locations and thermometer calibration. This article looks at the Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN). Back in the 1970s, there were about 6,000 climate-reporting stations in the GHCN, but that number had dropped to around 1,500 in 1990 and to a little over 1,000 now. That is the entire number of land-based surface observations used in calculating the global temperature. Temperature readings are still taken at most of the original stations, but for some reason, they have been deleted from the database. A computer expert by the name of E. Michael Smith has done an exhaustive analysis of which stations have disappeared from the record and how the remaining data has been manipulated. You can read the details at his website at To summarize, it appears that stations placed in historically cooler, rural areas of higher latitude and elevation were deleted from the data series in favor of more urban locales at lower latitudes and elevations, which are of course warmer. Consequently, readings after 1990 have been biased to the warm side not only by selective geographic location, but also by the influence of the urban heat island effect. For example, guess how many climate stations are now in the GHCN database for California? Just four! They are San Francisco, Santa Maria, Los Angeles, and San Diego. These are all coastal, urban and low-elevation stations. All of the high-elevation, rural and cold thermometers have been eliminated. In Canada, the number of reporting stations dropped from 496 in 1989 to just 44 in 1991 with only one—that’s right, just one—station north of […]

Words on Weather & Climate, by Craig James

February 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

  Climate Data Part 1 It seems as if every time someone digs up anything new about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC), something ugly crawls out. For example, the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency has recently discovered the IPCC incorrectly reported that 55% of that country was below sea level and would be flooded by increasing sea levels. The number should only be 20%. There have been many other revelations recently about the IPCC, the committee established to inform the world about climate change, but let’s move on to the two really important issues in climate change. Has this past decade been the warmest decade on record and have the global computer models been forecasting way too much warming? Let’s take a look at how the climate data is obtained and then used to construct this chart from NASA below, which shows global temperatures warming about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. I’ll start first with what is called the United States Historical Climate Network or USHCN. There are currently 1,221 reporting stations in this network with records going back into the late 1800s. A former television meteorologist by the name of Anthony Watts took on the enormous task of having all USHCN climate reporting stations surveyed to determine if they met the National Weather Service criteria for proper siting. Over 80% of the stations have now been studied and almost 90% of those stations failed to meet that criteria. The survey shows that nine out of every ten stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited on or near tarmacs, next to buildings, on paved driveways and roads, in waste treatment plants, on rooftops, near air conditioner exhausts and more. You can read about the survey and see photos of some of the ridiculous locations of thermometers in this pdf: One of my favorite examples is from The University of Arizona showing where the thermometer has recently been placed over pavement in a parking lot. It used to be over grass. Would you think this move might produce higher daytime temperatures? The thermometer shows warming but certainly not from Carbon Dioxide.   Poor current location of thermometers is just one of many problems. Since records began, most thermometers have […]